I’ve been to two distinctly different Amish settlements in Montana: Rexford and St. Ignatius.
Rexford is rural, remote, relatively small and Old Order. The Amish settlement in St. Ignatius is New Order, less remote and more sprawling. Two church districts spread out along the base of the Mission Mountains and, interestingly, this is the only Amish community in the USA located on tribal lands. The Amish settlement is on the Flathead Indian Reservation, more formally known as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation. I will have more to say in a future post about the state of Amish and Native relations. There has been some friction. The Amish-Indian angle is a topic I explore a lot in my upcoming book, Amish Cooks Across America.
The first thing that strikes a visitor to the St. Ignatius settlement is the beauty. Rexford is gorgeous, but you’re sort of lacking much of a view from where the settlement sits (I did visit one Amish home half way up a mountain in Rexford and the view from there was stunning). So if I had to award a prize for beauty, I think St. Ignatius would edge out Rexford. Stunning vistas of the Mission Mountains are a constant. This is a view from the parking lot of the Amish-owned Mission General Store. Stay tuned in the near future for more amazing images, but this just isn’t something you often see: buggies in a parking lot with 10,000 foot mountains in the background. Most of the Amish homes are wedged right up against the base of the mountains which rise dramatically from the valley floor.
The Mission General store was started from an Amish family from Indiana and it really resembles many of the other Amish-owned stores I’ve visited in the midwest: bulk foods and baked goods.